Predicting 2018 FIFA World Cup favorites and revisiting past ones
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is just around the corner, and there is a clear and palpable excitement in the air. People expect nothing less than an event full of skillful tactics, astounding goals, heartening team spirit and of course a couple of hair-raising controversies. And they know that they won’t be disappointed, considering the history of this inimitable event and the memorable moments that it has etched into our minds. Be it the hand of God goal that Diego Maradona scored, or the complete annihilation of Sweden in the 1958 final by the feet of Pele, or Zidane’s infamous headbutt in 2006 or even the epic 7-1 defeat of Brazil by Germany, closer in 2014. Here’s some of the most memorable moments, good and bad, from the past four FIFA World Cups.
Held in Brazil for the second time, 2014 was a relatively smooth tournament, with quite a few exceptional footballing moments and only a few conflicts, both on and off the field.
One of the largest conflict that took place on field was the biting of Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini by Uruguay’s Luis Suarez. Suarez, already having a reputation of biting his opponents, claimed his third victim in a group D match that Uruguay won, knocking Italy out and further adding to their woes. He was handed a four month suspension from all kinds of football for this little outburst.
7-1, a set of numbers that will probably haunt all of Brazil for years to come. It was probably one of the most one-sided match in the history of FIFA, but definitely the most shocking, seeing as how Brazil were the hosts and were perceived to be such a strong team. The Germans had other plans, however, and made their intent clear by scoring their first goal in the 11th minute. The next three goals were scored within the span of just 5 minutes. Brazil did manage to score a goal eventually, but that was probably the least celebrated goal of all time. This humiliation led to Brazil’s elimination from the semifinal and prolonged their wait for the sixth title.
2010 South Africa
Hosted in South Africa, this was certainly a world cup of firsts. The South Africans hosted it for the first time, the Spaniards won it for the first time, and for the first time, there was a psychic octopus who could predict the result of matches. Here are a few memorable events.
Since 1970, Adidas has been making footballs for each world cup, and few of them have drawn as much flak as the Jabulani. With the Jabulani, Adidas aimed to make the roundest ball ever, but in doing so made it extremely unpredictable. Goalkeepers like Julio Cesar and Iker Casillas were very vocal in their disapproval of this ball, and eventually a NASA study declared it to to be flawed.
Paul the Octopus
An octopus that could predict the result of every match? Surely this was nothing more than a parlor trick. But when it correctly predicted 5 of Germany’s matches, people started paying attention. What’s more, it even correctly predicted that Spain was going to win the World Cup!
The 2018 FIFA World Cup seems to have a deaf cat called Achilles doing the prediction honours.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) June 10, 2018
Andre Iniesta will remember this amazing number for the rest of his life, for this was the magical minute in which he netted the winning goal for Spain against Netherlands in the final. After a goalless 90 minutes, the match referees add another 30 minutes of playtime, but even that doesn’t seem to come to any fruition, as more than 25 minutes pass by goalless. But in the 26th minute, Jesus Navas starts a play, runs half the court with the ball, loses it, Iniesta picks it up, plays a clever passing game with Fernando Torres and Cesc Fabregas, who passes it back to Iniesta in the penalty box and Iniesta scores a blinder!
If there was any World Cup that was completely overshadowed by a single player’s actions, it was this one. Many memorable moments took place, but almost all of them were marred by the aggressive outburst of French great Zinedine Zidane, who headbutted Marco Materazzi of Italy in the final game. Let’s take a look at the top few.
Ghana manages to reach the knockout stage
With an amazing set of midfielders, this underdog team made a joke of both the U.S. and Czech teams, emerging out of what was called the ‘group of death’. But just when they seemed unstoppable, a legendary Brazil showed them their place and defeated them in the quarterfinals. Still, from then on Ghana was considered a force to be reckoned with.
France vs Brazil Quarterfinals
If the finals saw Zidane at his worst, this match made the world see him at his absolute best. His skillful tackles and dribbles left experienced Brazilian players like Ronaldo and Ronaldinho befuddled and paved the way for the 57th minute goal from Thierry Henry.
A moment in the final that overshadowed the entire world cup, overshadowed this legend’s career and arguably ruined it. The final of the 2006 world cup was underway, and France and Italy had each scored a goal. A normal game was taking place when suddenly the entire stadium went quiet. Something had happened, something that neither the cameras nor the referee had noticed. Zidane, who had been having a row with Italy’s Marco Materazzi for quite some time, had just headbutted him in a show of aggression. The Italian player had provoked this action by apparently insulting Zidane’s mother. Both players faced a suspension, but Zidane had announced his retirement post the world cup anyways so it didn’t hurt his career as much as it did his reputation.
2002 Korea and Japan
Co-hosted by Korea and Japan for the first time, this world cup was known for many things, be it Brazil’s prowess as a team or some absolutely nail biting finishes. Here are a few of the most memorable moments.
David Beckham, the then captain of England, scored an absolute blinder in a penalty to ensure that England beat Argentina 1-0.
Back when he was at his peak, there were only a few that could match Ronaldinho’s form and technique. In Brazil’s match vs England, he was called upon to take a free kick, and such was his skill that he turned it into a masterful goal.
Who will win FIFA 2018? Time will tell, but we can pick favorites!
We can be sure that this world cup will also give us such iconic moments and more, since almost every team shows promise, but some more than the others. Picking favorites is an extremely popular activity before any major tournament commences, and here are the teams who can lift the cup this year according to us.
Gallant 🇩🇪 Germany
It would be foolish to not include the defending champions Germany. Not only did they obliterate every team in their path in the previous world cup, they have also been in top form recently, winning the warm up Confederations Cup in Russia last year. They have a highly experienced team, with players who have been around for long and know exactly how it goes.
The 6-timing 🇧🇷 Brazil
Even though they had a dismal campaign last time, marred by their catastrophic 7-1 defeat by Germany, Brazil are looking good this year. Neymar being back from his injury adds the much needed spice to this extremely balanced team. If everything goes right for them and no major player gets injured midway, they have a great chance of making it to the finals.
Spectacular 🇪🇸 Spain
The Spaniards may look a bit stale and old, seeing as how most of their players are quite senior, including Iniesta who just announced his retirement after this World Cup. But these players bring with them tons and tons of experience and know the game inside out. If they can persevere and masterfully use their tactics, they have a definite chance to win. They did eliminate Italy in the qualifiers, remember?
Although there are some metrics with which one can estimate results and pick favorites, it all changes once the whistle is blown and the ball is kicked off. Instincts take over and miracles happen. The points table is really wide open, and anyone can win.